Prism Logistics adds another Central Valley warehouse

 

CVBT 5/22/19

  • It is its fourth Stockton facility
  • Now operates 1,600,000 square feet

Following closely on its announcement of a third facility in Stockton, Prism Logistics of Danville says Thursday that it has opened a fourth facility in the inland port city.

“The lower cost of real estate in California’s Central Valley is particularly attractive for our growing consumer product goods customers. And we’re happy to invest in controlled, steady growth to support their success,” says Jeremy Van Puffelen, vice president of business development for Prism Logistics.

This acquisition brings the Northern California third-party logistics provider’s total capacity to 1.6 million square feet of food-grade, safety-certified warehouse capacity. Prism operates eight facilities throughout Northern California and convenient to port, rail and highways serving the entire major metropolitan region and international gateway.

The company’s facilities are in Hayward, Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and Livermore.

Prism did not identify the seller or the financial terms of the deal.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/e36c8322-3f05-4d58-9ac8-b9a1027da26d.pdf

Study: Opportunity Zone-ready California could generate hundreds of millions in economic activity

APRIL 18, 2019 BY ED COGHLAN


South Los Angeles, California (Photo: Alfred Twu/Wikimedia)

More than three million Californians live in some 879 federally designated Opportunity Zones in disadvantaged communities throughout the state. California has more Opportunity Zones than any other state.

The federal Opportunity Zone incentive allows investors to defer federal taxation on capital gains by investing the proceeds through a qualified opportunity fund into a designated Opportunity Zone. To be eligible for the full benefit, investments must be long-term (at least 10 years) and meet a set of rules designed to ensure these investments create additional economic activity in Opportunity Zone communities.

To maximize the potential impact for Opportunity Zone residents, the state needs to pass legislation that will help communities become “Opportunity Zone Ready.”

“No such action has been taken yet in California,” CA Fwd CEO Jim Mayer wrote recently. “This is a serious missed opportunity to tap an unprecedented source of private capital in communities that need it most, and the state is running out of time to act.”

Governor Newsom has shown support for Opportunity Zones and ensuring California is a competitive environment for impact investments that can support community-building projects and local businesses. As the governor said at the Opportunity Zone Investor Summit at Stanford University last month, for the program to succeed it must spark investment while benefiting existing residents, rather than just investors. “We don’t just believe in growth,” Gov. Newsom said at Stanford. “We believe in inclusion. You can’t have one without the other.”

“Opportunity Zones provide an excellent opportunity to revitalize low-income areas in California,” said Lenny Mendonca, chief economic and business advisor to Governor Newsom. “In order to move the economic needle for millions of Californians who are struggling, attracting investment in areas where they live is sound policy that can help us meet our objective of making California’s economy more sustainable and inclusive.”

One example of a community that could benefit is the city of Lynwood, where roughly 70,000 people live in the working-class area of south east Los Angeles County.

“Economic development is a strategic priority for our city and many more like us,” said Jose Ometeotl, Lynwood city manager. “This investment vehicle can help us attract capital, improve our tax base and create jobs for our residents. I expect Governor Newsom and the Legislature will make sure California conforms to the federal requirements so communities like ours can compete for investment. ”

CA Fwd and Golden State Opportunity will release a new study next week showing that between $745 million and $1.2 billion in new economic activity in Opportunity Zones could be generated this year. In subsequent years, increased economic activity would range from more than $700 million to nearly $500 million.

“This study reaffirms what we already believed. Opportunity Zones will generate a significant return on investment and a much-needed boost to underinvested communities at a relatively minor overall expense to the state,” said Josh Fryday, president of Golden State Opportunity. “Opportunity Zones can be an important community-driven investment tool that complements other investments by the state and philanthropy in people, places and much-needed projects.”

These incentives would mean a potential revenue loss to the state of $65 million annually between 2019 and 2025, while local tax revenue is expected to cumulatively increase by $68 million over that same time period. Critics have said this incentive is an unnecessary expense, but according to the study, state support for Opportunity Zones will generate at least 10 times the economic impact in these areas, and state tax revenue would be largely recovered when deferred capital gains taxes are paid following the 2026 year.

“We are encouraged by the excitement in the investor community and encourage everybody to think about these investments as not simply about a tax benefit but about measurable long-term economic impact on the communities they are meant to serve,” Mendonca added.

The California Economic Summit in 2018 developed a framework that emphasized three steps that must be taken to maximize the social benefits of Opportunity Zones:

  • Make state resources available to communities that want to be “Opportunity Zone-ready”
  • Align state community, economic and workforce development funds to leverage social and environmental benefits of Opportunity Zones
  • Conform state capital gains tax treatment to the new federal law

Governor Newsom and legislative leaders will be sent the report on Monday and a series of meetings explaining the potential benefits are being scheduled.

“California is one of few states that have not yet enacted legislation conforming to the federal program,” said Mayer. “We believe that as legislators learn more about the program, they’ll make sure California isn’t left behind.”

https://caeconomy.org/reporting/entry/study-opportunity-zone-ready-california-could-generate-hundreds-of-millions

This Visalia company is one of three paper straw manufacturers in the U.S.

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) — At Kaweah Container, corrugated boxes are the bread and butter of the business.

They’ve been making them for decades, shipping them to customers in California and the west coast.

But last year, the family-owned Visalia company saw a global trend, identified a need, and decided to start manufacturing a new product — paper straws.

“Kaweah Container might be new to straws but we’ve used paper to make quality products for nearly 30 years,” the company says in their promotional YouTube video.

“Single-use plastic products including straws have kind of fallen out of favor and people were trying to be more environmentally conscious,” said president Rob Reeves.

The equipment came in last fall, and after months of research and development, shipping started in late February of 2019.

President Rob Reeves says it’s been a challenge, but a fun one. He added that the response so far has been positive.

“The paper straws that are out there on the marketplace now, a lot of people would probably agree they’re just not very good,” Reeves said. “So our goal was not only to make a paper straw but to try to make a better paper straw.”

Brian Johnson: “What’s a better paper straw?”

“Well our goal is to make something that lasts the lifetime of your drink, not the lifetime of the planet,” he said.

Reeves says Kaweah Container is one of three paper straw manufacturers in the country, and they’re the only one in California.

But he believes they can do it better than the rest.

One reason? They print them with this machine-an HP T400, which can put any kind of image you want on your straw.

“We use a thermal inkjet process so it creates a vapor bubble inside the printhead, and thus expelling the ink from the printhead, and that’s how the ink gets transferred to the paper,” said manufacturer Reg Phillips.

A slitter machine then cuts the paper down into smaller strips and it heads to Kaweah Container’s straw machines.

The straws are more than just eco-friendly. The materials in them are safe.

“It should be regulated and it’s not,” said the vice president of operations, Erin Jennings. “And it was extremely important to us that we worked with vendors who wanted to come up and help us develop an FDA approved product.”

Sequoia Brewing Company and the Visalia Rawhide are just a couple of the companies who have invested in these straws.

For more information, you can go to kcstraws.com

On The Road: Agritourism — discover the history of agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley

By Tim Viall, Special to The Record
Posted May 13, 2019

Residents of San Joaquin County live in, arguably, the most productive agricultural region in the world. But, as cities expand, farming and food production is pushed further each year into the countryside; many residents seldom think where that food on the table comes from, much less how it is harvested and produced.

To understand the agricultural underpinnings of our county, make your first stop the San Joaquin Historical Museum at Micke Grove Park south of Lodi. The museum story begins with an expanded Native Peoples Gallery, offering insight into the Native Americans who have been living in what is now San Joaquin County for more than 13,000 years.

The museum traces the Miwok- and Yokuts-speaking people, all with rich cultures and lifestyles. Native peoples here put up the greatest resistance to the Spanish-Mexican missions and fought battles with the largest army formed in Spanish-Mexican California. Videos bring to life the intricacies of traditional basket making, acorn preparation, deer hunting and native life.

An interactive circular display allows visitors to listen to recorded messages. In one recording, Glen Villa Jr. (Northern Miwok/Plains Miwok) tells about the First People and a traditional creation narrative. Another recording shares a traditional Yokuts story, told by Sylvia Ross (Chukchansi Yokuts), a third of the Indian freedom fighters led by Estanislao, for whom the Stanislaus River and county were named.

These exhibits work well with the other exhibits in the Erickson Building, and visitors can go in chronological order from the Native peoples who first inhabited the area, to an exhibit on the early trappers and the founding of French Camp, the first non-Indian community. Continue on to an exhibition on the early American settlers, then on to exhibits on the Gold Rush, a hands-on children’s gallery, and the adjacent Weber Gallery.

The Innovators of Agriculture exhibit features the development of intensive, irrigated agriculture in the county beginning around 1900. Six crops are the focus: dry beans, asparagus, cherries, walnuts, canning tomatoes and truck farming (growing of fruits and veggies, trucked to local markets). If you want insight into why our county is so ag-centric, start at this museum wonder! The museum is kid-friendly, with lots of “hands-on” options, and scores of huge tractors, harvesters and vintage farming equipment to wow even young visitors.

Expand your agri-history tour with a visit to the California Agricultural Museum in Woodland, north of Sacramento and just off Interstate 5. Gene Muhlenkamp, a docent since 1996, took two hours to show my friends and I through much of the museum. Its collection stems from that of the Heidrick Brothers, farmers who built a substantial farming empire west of Woodland beginning in the 1930s. Inventive, they often concocted their own machinery to solve farming challenges and began an extensive collection of vintage and noteworthy agri-machinery.

The museum offers a unique collection of tractors, artifacts and interactive exhibits telling the history of California agriculture. Implements date back to the Gold Rush era and follow California’s evolution from horse-drawn ag machinery to steam-driven and then on to fuel-powered machines. Wander the collection of wheeled and track-type harvesters, tractors, combines, trucks and photo galleries. You’ll even find a Ford Model T roadster converted to a farm tractor.

Museum items with a Stockton connection include an old Samson Sieve-Grip tractor, built in Stockton in the early 1900s, several huge Holt tracked-vehicles, built for the U.S. military in World War I to haul artillery pieces and take the place of horses, killed all too often in action. The huge Holt tractor, armored for wartime, has a number of dents in its armor from bullet strikes.

A monster-sized Best steamer seems almost too large to be true, dwarfing my friends who joined for the tour. A giant Holt harvester (made in Stockton), all of wood and timber with iron fittings, was once hauled through fields with a team of two dozen horses and mules, before steam power would replace the horses.

A display of vintage John Deere tractors, meticulously renovated, lines one long wall; down the center of the museum march a line of a dozen Caterpillar tractors, used both on the farm and in the construction industry. A midsized Fordson tractor, nicknamed the “Snow Devil,” is equipped with spiral-ribbed pontoons, used to navigate deep snows of Donner Pass to haul five tons of mail during winter’s harsh storms.

Museumgoers with kids will find a special play area designed to hearken back to simpler times when child’s play required imagination. Kids can play corn hole, and enjoy the carousel and pedal tractors. A team of docents will tour you through the 45,000-square-foot museum gallery, noting that each tractor, wagon or harvester all have their unique stories.

For more information: The California Agriculture Museum, 1958 Hays Lane, Woodland, (530) 666-9700, http://Californiaagmuseum.org, open Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; San Joaquin Historical Society and Museum, in Micke Grove Park, 11793 N. Micke Grove Road, Lodi, http://sanjoaquinhistory.org, (209) 953-3460, open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

 

Could Bakersfield become a California boomtown?

Like many born and raised in Bakersfield, California, Austin Smith has made peace with the city’s reputation. Built on oil and agriculture, the city of half a million in the state’s rural Central Valley, known by outsiders for its unique strain of country music and long-running role as a punchline for Johnny Carson, has traditionally been stereotyped as unsophisticated and backwards.

“It’s like a California version of the New York versus New Jersey thing—but maybe worse,” Smith says. “You’re so close to one of the biggest metro areas in the country, but never quite there.”

Like many of his generation, Smith, 37, moved to bigger cities in search of opportunity. In his case, he sought work in urban planning and commercial development in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. But as he developed a passion for downtown revitalization, he began wondering, why not Bakersfield? He returned to his hometown in 2014 with a hunch that the city was ripe for redevelopment, and soon began work on what would become the 17th Place Townhomes.

Since opening in 2016, the high-end three-story, 44-unit downtown development represents the first market-rate housing built in the city’s core in decades. It’s not every day the city gets new housing, complete with a dog park, fountains, and a fire pit. Now that the development is fully leased—not a small accomplishment for new housing asking the highest rent in town, at between $1,630 and $1,830 for a two-bedroom—its success has convinced Smith and his firm, Sage Equities Real Estate, to break ground later this year on a new 53-unit project downtown.

“What we’re doing is a real niche product,” he says. “But you can really start seeing people get excited about this neighborhood.”

As in just about every other small- or medium-sized U.S. city experiencing a downtown rebirth, opportunity and affordability have drawn many millennials to return to Bakersfield and kickstart new businesses.
 Courtesy Sage Equities
Since opening in 2016, the 17th Place Townhomes development represents the first market-rate housing built in the city’s core in decades.
 Courtesy Sage Equities

A bet on Bakersfield and rebuilding downtown

Smith’s bet on Bakersfield represents a new era of development, however small, for this Central Valley city. A recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found Bakersfield to have one of the highest rates of millennial movers and homeowners, setting off a series of stories written with a tone of “wait, that Bakersfield?” as if it were a shock that somebody might find the city was both a good value and a good opportunity.

After all, compared to coastal California, where were the high-paying tech jobs and new homes? When California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s troubled high-speed rail project would focus on the Bakersfield to Merced section, connecting two Central Valley locations, many rail supporters felt Newsom was saying the train would never connect to LA or San Francisco.

But, as in just about every other small- or medium-sized U.S. city experiencing a downtown rebirth, opportunity and affordability have drawn many millennials, like Smith, to return to their hometowns and kickstart new businesses. Bakersfield may be starting later than most, but it’s following the same narrative, led by a core group of early supporters and entrepreneurs.

The 17th Place Townhomes helped bring more attention to a newly christened neighborhood, Eastchester, that’s beginning to blossom, and includes restaurants, coffee shops, and new businesses. In this formerly industrial stretch of town, business owners are finding new uses for old buildings, including Cafe Smitten, another Smith project, and Dot x Ott, a just-opened seasonal kitchen that sources its produce from a farm 10 miles away.

Though tiny, the downtown turnaround is palpable, says Debbie Lewis, a wealth manager who moved back to Bakersfield a few years ago.

“The downtown that I grew up hearing about and knew as a young adult was a ghost town that people were hesitant to visit and a place that businesses had a hard time sustaining,” she says. “Now, it appears to be growing at a slow but steady pace and an inspiring amount of businesses have are continuing to decide to take that leap, get creative, and get in on the action. People are starting to see the positive impact of investing more care, money, and time in our downtown.”

While the city’s current growth spurt has been out, not up, as nearby farmland has been turned into housing developments, there are a lot of buildings with good bones downtown, according to Gunnar Hand, an urban designer with architecture and planning firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Hand led a team that devised a new downtown plan for Bakersfield in 2016, in anticipation of the arrival of high-speed rail. They found the beginning stages of placemaking investments had already laid the groundwork for the nexus of new downtown development.

“This is, for lack of a better term, a third-tier city that’s only now coming around to urban revitalization,” says Hand. “Los Angeles is 20 to 30 years into revitalizing its downtown. Kansas City, [Missouri], my hometown, is 10 years in. Bakersfield is in, like, year one.”

Moving back and making a new start

When talking to Bakersfield residents who left town for college or careers and have now returned as older adults, affordability is a constant theme.

It helps in California to have housing that’s actually affordable. With a median home value of $241,000 as of last March, and median starter homes beginning at just $145,300 according to Zillow, it’s no surprise that the median age of a first-time buyer in Bakersfield is just 33. The city’s sprawling growth pattern has played a big role in creating cheap housing; as the city and metro region grew out, Bakersfield’s population ballooned from 70,000 in 1970 to more than 380,000 today.

According to NAR researcher Nadia Evangelou, these newly arrived millennials can afford to buy nearly 15 percent of homes currently listed for sale in Bakersfield, compared to only 4 percent in Los Angeles.

“Millennials still move to big metro areas such as Los Angeles and San Francisco,” she says. “But we see that they don’t stay in these areas, because of weak affordability conditions.”

The Eastchester neighborhood in Bakersfield.
 Sage Equities

But the real draw goes beyond affordability. Cheaper housing enables many of the Bakersfield boomerangs to buy rather than rent, have a better quality of life, and start businesses, all of which might be unaffordable in other California cities.

For Jessie Blackwell, a cofounder of Dot x Ott, the seasonal restaurant and market just a few blocks from the 17th Place Townhomes, now is the perfect time to open a new kind of business in town. The restaurant, which opened last month, is taking advantage of the region’s wealth of farms and fresh produce in a way that just wasn’t really done here just a decade ago

“There’s a food movement here,” she says. “You can see it in the revitalization of downtown, and the handful of farm-to-table restaurants that have come to town. In the last five years, you’ve just seen this boom in farmers markets and so many more local options.”

Melissa Delgado is a product manager for an agriculture company who returned to town in 2011 after studying in San Diego. She found that the city, with its low cost of living, was perfect for growing her career. With the $2,000 or more she would be spending per month on rent elsewhere, she’s been able to buy a house.

“When I first came back here, I hated it,” she says. “I wanted to go right back to the city. But I’ve been able to grow my career here, and the style of living is just so much better.”

Daniel Cater, an architect and designer who recently returned to town with his wife three years ago, has found great opportunity since moving home (Smith hired him to design the townhome project).

“You’re beginning to see a city of half a million support innovation and change,” he says. “For me, it’s exciting to watch a city that hasn’t really found itself, where the entrepreneurial spirit is alive. It’s fun to be in a place where you can get to know the people making an impact, and make an impact yourself.”

The original SOM plan for Bakersfield would be to connect the city’s historic core, Mill Creek, and forthcoming high-speed rail station. 
Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM)

Placemaking and the Padre Hotel

Most of the Bakersfield residents interviewed for this story noted that a lot of the new energy downtown comes from people who have returned after moving away, not a flood of new arrivals from other parts of the state or country. There’s still a relatively tight-knit circle of businesses and entrepreneurs in town, often built on local networks. Smith’s dad, for instance, is city Councilmember Bob Smith. And compared to the urban renaissances touted in other cities, Bakersfield’s new developments are not linked to any kind of broad apartment-building boom or big economic expansion yet.

But the catalysts for such change seem to be in place: Two local groups, Kern Economic Development Corporation, a traditional local business group, and Be In Bakersfield, a grassroots nonprofit that promotes new local businesses, have started marketing the city as a place of opportunity.

With some additional investments in transit and placemaking, Bakersfield also has the potential to truly activate its downtown. According to SOM’s Hand, when the firm studied the city in 2016, it found that much of the infrastructure for downtown growth was already finished or in the works. As part of a larger community redevelopment project, Bakersfield developed Mill Creek, a River Walk-style public space and linear park lined with theaters and new businesses. It opened in 2010.

Many of SOM’s suggestions—to create new transit links, connect the city’s already impressive bike lane network, and tie together disparate parts of downtown—have already been done or are in development.

“Our main suggestion was to create infill that brings together Mill Creek with the downtown core,” he says. “That’s already happening now, without the rail station being built.”

In addition to larger urban plans setting the table for more dense development, the successful redevelopment of the Padre Hotel also served as a marker and milestone for downtown. A landmark from the ’20s that reopened in 2010, the ornate hotel at 18th and H streets, a four-star property in the Central Valley, showed many that the city’s stock of old buildings held promise.

“The 17th Place Townhomes and the Padre Hotel are landmark projects for a town this size,” says Hand. “They signal something to the market that didn’t exist before, and it’s starting to snowball. There are local developers taking note.”

A landmark from the ’20s that reopened in 2010, the ornate hotel at 18th and H streets, a four-star property in the Central Valley, showed many that the city’s stock of old buildings held promise. 
TNS via Getty Images

Continuing challenges to building a better Bakersfield

Bakersfield has gained momentum, but it still has a ways to go. Like many Central Valley cities, such as Merced, it’s pushing to diversify economically and build new industries, as well as regain the attention of state government after being ignored for many years.

As part of a larger demographic trend statewide, however, these Central Valley cities have seen more attention from new arrivals. Interior metros like Riverside, Fresno, and Sacramento have seen net domestic migration rise from 2012, when this region collectively lost 4,000 people, to 2017, when 38,000 arrived. At the same time, coastal parts of California have grown at a much slower pace, two-thirds less in 2017 than in 2012.

To capitalize on its growing population, Bakersfield’s economy needs to expand beyond health care, agriculture, and oil, and the region needs to invest in creating a more educated workforce. According to the Brookings Institution, among those ages 25 to 34 in the Bakersfield area, 29 percent are in poverty and only 14 percent graduated from college. The city’s persistent problems with air pollution, some of the worst in the state and nation, give potential residents pause.

“We have historically relied on cyclical industries like oil and agriculture, but the truth is, that’s not the future of where the world is moving,” says Anna Smith, a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian, and Austin’s wife. “We need to diversify, and bringing new minds here who have lived in other places is key to the 21st century.”

Anna Smith, like others, has pinned some hope on Newsom’s commitment to the Central Valley, including high-speed rail and other economic plans. Proposals at the local level, like Measure N, an initiative to revive state-funded community development, and a forthcoming update to the city’s general plan, could help finish out some of the placemaking plans SOM and others have proposed to knit together Bakersfield’s downtown.

“Newsom has the opportunity to show us that he can make connections here,” says Smith.

Coming back to feel more connected

The small cadre of new businesses, and Bakersfield residents returning home, suggests a similar story—like those in places like Memphis, Tennessee, or Louisville, Kentucky—is starting to play out. Bakersfield hasn’t had a downtown boom, at least not yet, but the seeds have been planted.

As Debbie Lewis, the wealth manager, suggests, there’s a hunger among young adults to make a mark on their environment.

“They don’t just want to be one of the millions of people swallowed by social media and all the reminders that we’re broke and don’t have any money,” she says. “All that negativity is pushing people to connect with a place and make a difference, and I think that’s possible here in Bakersfield.”

Or, as Anna Smith suggests, affordability isn’t the entire answer, it’s just the beginning. Without the pressure to pay for increasingly high rents, having more time to focus on passion projects and community engagement makes a real difference.

“If you want to say it’s just about affordable housing, that’s not all there is the Bakersfield,” she says. “Young professionals can come here, start a business, and find lower barriers to entry. Most importantly, they can feel connected to the community and make a real impact.”

https://www.curbed.com/2019/5/14/18618458/california-real-estate-bakersfield-downtown-revival-millennial

Stockton and other Central Valley cities, best California cities to start a small business

Central Valley Business Times

• It’s ranked fifth in the state, 34th in the nation
• Fresno almost ties with San Francisco

With this being “National Small Business Week” and half of Americans working for small businesses, the personal finance website WalletHub has released its report on “2019’s Best Large Cities to Start a Business.”

WalletHub says it compared 100 U.S. cities across 19 key indicators of startup viability. The data set ranges from five-year business-survival rate to office-space affordability.

Here is WalletHub’s rankings for the California cities itincluded in its report:

• Oakland, 19th nationally
• Irvine, 20th
• Los Angeles

• San Diego, 30th
Stockton, 34th

• Long Beach, 37th
• San Jose, 42nd
• San Francisco, 44th
Fresno, 45th
• Chula Vista, 51st
• San Bernardino, 52nd
• Sacramento, 54th
Bakersfield 56th
• Anaheim, 65th
• Santa Ana, 72nd
• Fremont, 90th

Best vs. Worst
• Toledo, Ohio, has the lowest average annual rent for office space, $11.93 per square foot, which is 6.7 times cheaper than in San Francisco, the city with the highest at $80.22 per square foot.

• Detroit has the lowest labor costs (median annual income), $27,838, which is 4.4 times lower than in Fremont, the city with the highest at $122,191.

• Laredo, Texas, has the lowest cost-of-living index, 77, which is 2.5 times lower than in San Francisco, the city with the highest at 196.

• Miami, Florida, has the most startups per 100,000 residents, 234.72, which is 3.2 times more than in  Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the city with the fewest at 74.40.

For the full report:
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-to-start-abusiness/2281/ – main-findings

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/aec4dc6c-c168-4ded-91e8-1694b4ac9461.pdf

Two new restaurants are offering Fresno favorites tri-tip and Armenian food in downtown

Two new restaurants fill Kern Street vacancies

BoxCar Cafe serving sandwiches and tri-tip for lunch and breakfast, opened in the spot vacated by CHARburger on the corner of Kern and L, while GG’s Food Factory will serve Mediterranean and Armenian food, next door at 2139 Kern St.

First came the tri-tip sandwiches. Soon, you’ll be able to get an Armenian favorite: a bread boat filled with a warm cheese and egg mixture.

These items are on the menu at two new restaurants opening on the same corner in downtown Fresno. Both are at the northwest corner of Kern and L streets, part of the Hotel Virginia building.

The first, BoxCar Cafe, opened about a month ago, shortly after its predecessor, CHARburger closed in late March. Keep reading for more about BoxCar.

MEDITERRANEAN FOOD

The newbie restaurant next door is GG’s Food Factory. It opens at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 9 at 2139 Kern St. It’s in the space that Tree of Life left behind when it moved north to 6640 N. Blackstone Ave.

The food here is Mediterranean, with some Armenian favorites and options for people who just want a hamburger or pizza.

That eggy, cheesy concoction? It’s called adjaruli khachapuri, though you can just say egg boat if that’s easier. It’s technically from Georgia (the country next door to Armenia), but is a common dish in Armenia, said Tigran Hovhannisyan, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Ripsime Oganyan.

He recommends tearing off a bit of that dough and dipping it in the warm gooey mixture.

Also on the menu: Plates of barbecued meat like pork ribs, cubes of lamb and chicken lula kabob served with rice pilaf. You can also get a hamburger and a lamb burger, salads and pizza.

A few other dishes on GG’s menu that you won’t find at many other Fresno restaurants? Lahmajoon (an Armenian flatbread smothered in ground beef) and potato pie (technically called piroshki). It looks like a roll, but it’s stuffed with herbed mashed potatoes and then deep fried for a crunchy bite.

If the name GG’s Food Factory sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen the big red food truck of the same name around town. The same couple runs it and many of the dishes sold on the truck will be available at the restaurant.

They’re putting aside the truck for a while to focus on running the restaurant.

“That’s my dream,” Hovhannisyan said. “I’ve been cooking for a long time.”

He owned a restaurant in Armenia before coming to Fresno in 2000. After starting the food truck, customers started asking for something more.

“They keep asking about a restaurant, because they want a sit-down restaurant,” he said.

For the next month or so, GG’s will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

For downtown diners looking for dinnertime options, don’t fret yet. The couple hopes to get there eventually and be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and for lunch and dinner on Saturdays and Sundays.

But they’re also expecting a baby in about a month and between that and opening a new restaurant, they decided to start small and ramp up.

QUICK LUNCH

The BoxCar Cafe at 901 L St. is a quick place to grab lunch. It opened about a month ago.

Its lunch menu has just six options: A cheeseburger, veggie burger, tri-tip sandwich, grilled chicken club, a “ham stack” sandwich and a sourdough Joe made with bacon, Swiss and American cheese with grilled onions on sourdough bread.

It also serves breakfast quesadillas and breakfast sandwiches, though people are still discovering that it’s open for breakfast, said owner Donna Willis.

The restaurant doesn’t have a prominent sign yet, but look for the restaurant that’s right on the corner of Kern and L streets. It is open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, with breakfast items served until 10:30 a.m.

If the restaurant name BoxCar sounds familiar, it’s probably because you remember the little cafe painted to look like a boxcar on Hamilton Avenue. Most recently it was called Keith’s BoxCar Cafe & Barbecue, though it closed years ago.

Willis opened the first BoxCar on Hamilton before it went through a succession of owners.

https://www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/bethany-clough/article230092179.html

Central Valley’s almond boom continues

April 29, 2019

Central Valley Business Times

• New report shows growth in acreage given over to almonds
• Five times the size of the total area of Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield and Stockton – combined

The acreage planted with almonds in the Central Valley and the rest of the state last year increased by 2 percent from the year before,according to a new report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Last year, an estimated 1,390,000 acres were devoted to almonds. Almost all of that acreage was in the Central Valley.

The total is up 2 percent from the 2017 acreage of 1,360,000. Of the total acreage for 2018, 1,090,000 acres were bearing and 300,000 acres were non-bearing. And it’s increasing. Preliminary bearing acreage for 2019 is estimated at 1,170,000 acres. That’s five times the size of the total area of Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield and Stockton – combined.

Nonpareil continue to be the leading variety, followed by Monterey, Butte, Carmel, and Padre.

Kern, Fresno, Stanislaus, Merced and Madera were the leading counties. These five Central Valley counties had 72 percent of the total bearing acreage.

fhttps://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/61a12c98-2afa-4584-9edb-4f7de15a96f8.pdf

California unemployment rate rises to 4.3 percent in March

• Employers add 24,500 nonfarm payroll jobs
• Jobless rates ride in all Central Valley counties

California’s unemployment increased to 4.3 percent in March while the state’s employers added 24,500 nonfarm
payroll jobs, according to data released Friday by the California Employment Development Department from two surveys.

California has now gained a total of 3,163,900 jobs since the economic expansion began in February 2010. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent, and the nation’s employers added 196,000 nonfarm payroll jobs last month.

In March of last year, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.3 percent. The unemployment rate is derived from a federal survey of 5,100 California households.

Nonfarm payroll jobs in California totaled 17,353,500 in March, according to a survey of businesses that is larger and less variable statistically. The survey of 80,000 California businesses measures jobs in the economy. The year-over change from March 2018 to March 2019 shows
an increase of 238,500 jobs (up 1.4 percent).

The federal survey’s results
The federal household survey, done with a smaller sample than the survey of employers, shows a decrease in the number of employed Californians over the month. It estimates the number of Californians holding jobs in March was 18,742,000, a decrease of 17,000 from
February and up 274,000 from the employment total in March of last year. The number of unemployed Californians was 838,500 in
March – an increase of 14,300 over the month and up by 5,200 compared with March of last year. EDD’s payroll employment report (wage and salary jobs) in the nonfarm industries of California totaled 17,353,500 in March, a net gain of 24,500 jobs from February. This
followed a revised gain of 20,900 jobs in February.

Month-over Job Gains
Nine of California’s eleven industry sectors added a total of 30,400 jobs in March. Construction reported the largest increase with a gain of 9,400 jobs. Other sectors adding jobs over the month were professional and business services, manufacturing, educational and health services, information, other services, leisure and hospitality, government, and mining and logging.

Month-over Job Losses
Two of California industries reported job losses over the month. Trade, transportation, and utilities reported the largest decrease with a loss of 5,800 jobs while financial activities had a loss of 100 jobs.

Year-over Job Gains
In a year-over-year comparison (March 2018 to March 2019), nonfarm payroll employment in California increased by 238,500 jobs (a 1.4 percent increase). Ten of California’s eleven industry sectors added a total of 242,700 jobs over the year. The largest job gains were in
professional and business services, up 65,900 (a 2.5 percent increase) and educational and health services, up 64,100 jobs (a 2.4 percent increase). Other sectors adding  jobs over the year were leisure and hospitality, government, construction, manufacturing, information, trade, transportation and utilities, other services, and mining and logging.

Year-over Job Losses
The only industry that posted a year-over decline was financial activities with a job loss of 4,200. In related data, the EDD reported that there were 387,767 people receiving regular Unemployment Insurance benefits during the March survey week. This compares with 389,449 in February and 403,184 in March of last year. At the same time, new claims for Unemployment Insurance were 39,965 in March, compared with 34,593 in February and 39,330 in March of last year. Seasonally adjusted payroll detail follows:

Here are MARCH’s unemployment rates for Central Valley counties, followed by, in parentheses, the rates for February:
• Butte – 6.2 percent; (6.1 percent)
• Fresno – 9.4 percent; (8.9 percent)
• Kern – 10.1 percent; (9.3 percent)
• Kings – 10.3 percent; (9.9 percent)
• Madera – 8.9 percent; (8.2 percent)
• Merced – 11.0 percent; (10.7 percent)
• Sacramento – 4.3 percent; (4.1 percent)
• San Joaquin – 7.3 percent; (7.0 percent)
• Stanislaus — 7.5 percent; (7.2 percent)
• Tulare – 12.1 percent. (11.3 percent)
• Yolo – 5.3 percent; (5.2 percent)
• Yuba – 7.9 percent; (7.8 percent)

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/f776f23d-0e50-40e4-a8e6-961e033ac984.pdf

Goodyear exec to headline Valley business summit

April 20, 2019

For The Madera Tribune

The San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance (SJVMA) and the Fresno Business Council (FBC) have announced the keynote speaker for Valley Made: The 5th annual Manufacturing Summit. He is Billy Taylor, global director of diversity and inclusion at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

More than 1,000 manufacturing industry attendees are expected to participate in the event to be held on Thursday, May 2, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall. Sponsorships and exhibit space are still available by contacting Genelle Taylor Kumpe via email ( genelle@sjvma.org), calling 214-0140 or visiting www.valleymadesummit.com.

 Troy Brandt is the new board chair of the local group, succeeding Mike Betts, who will remain on the board as SJVMA’s founding chairman.

Since he was 14, Brandt has worked in  manufacturing at nearly every professional level.

“The growth of both the SJVMA and the ‘Valley Made’ Manufacturing Summit would not be what it is today without the vision, leadership, and guidance of Mike Betts,” said Brandt, who is general manager at Hydratech.

The SJVMA boasts a membership of over 745 business leaders, partner groups, and manufacturers from all sectors throughout the Valley. San Joaquin Valley industry is responsible for nearly $15 billion of the Valley’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs more than 105,000 people. Due to baby-boomer retirements and the economic expansion, it is estimated that over the next decade, almost 3.5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled.

“The SJVMA organizes manufacturers to speak with one voice regarding the development of a workforce needed to sustain and grow manufacturing. It’s our responsibility to ensure that education and government embrace adaptive and innovative educational training solutions in order for the Valley to grow and sustain a strong workforce and strong communities,” said Brandt.

The 5th Annual “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit is designed as a workshop and resource expo that explains the Valley’s history of innovation in manufacturing while providing resources and networking opportunities that continue to build a well-trained, outstanding workforce. At its core, the Summit promotes cross-sector collaboration aimed at creating a globally competitive environment for the Valley’s manufacturing industry. After four years, the summit has maintained continual growth, yet the focus remains the same, building a future where Valley manufacturing thrives through innovative collaboration, engagement, and creating a culture that cultivates workers that are higher skilled and better educated.

This year’s keynote speaker, Billy Taylor, Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is a well-respected figure in manufacturing. Taylor has served as a keynote speaker at numerous events speaking on how to sustain positive results by embracing culture and enabling employee ownership. An advocate for equality and inclusion, he has led diversity and inclusion strategies across the 22 countries where Goodyear operates. His approach has created an exemplary environment where every employee feels engaged and empowered to contribute at their highest level.

Taylor will lead the way for a wide assortment of breakout session topics including cybersecurity in manufacturing, energy solutions for the San Joaquin Valley, how to know your company’s market potential, tax credits and incentives, and many more.

These sessions aim to provide attendees a wealth of information that will educate and inform them of the innovative practices that may allow businesses to stay competitive in the global marketplace.